Sheriff Winston Barnes is astounded to find a large airplane has crash-landed at the nearby airfield on the coast of North Carolina—with no signs of a pilot or cargo. When the body of a local man is discovered—shot dead and lying on the grass near the crash site—Winston begins a murder investigation that will change the course of his life and the fate of the community that he has sworn to protect.
... a crisp, tightly edited 304 pages ... we have a murder and a mystery, and both will be solved, but Cash is up to much more in his gripping, multi-layered fourth novel about the South and race and how the past keeps a grip on the present ... Some readers may be taken aback by the abrupt gut-punch ending; I was at first. But as I mulled it over for several days—and that says a lot about the power of the book—I understood it was not capricious. Cash was setting it—and us—up all along, and it was as inevitable as nightfall in late autumn, when the ghosts come out.
... a pretty darned good murder mystery that attempts, with some success, to examine the history of race relations in his beloved state during a certain era ... quite the page-turner. If you can set aside the fact that the murder investigation is stunningly cavalier, inept and racist...the whodunit is mighty compelling. One not-minor complaint—the novel's title is a clichéd misrepresentation of the story it tells. Novel titles are powerful, and this one fails to represent the nuances of this uneven but still powerful novel.
Cash is a good storyteller, capturing the cadence of Southern speech and the complexity of modest lives with thoughtful intelligence. Class distinctions are cleverly revealed ... The problem is that this suspenseful Reagan-era story of a Southern sheriff haunted by a violent act in his past seems most believable as the invention of a well-intentioned author writing in 2021. The bad characters are cartoonish ogres ... It’s a comforting story that all racists are open and immediately identifiable, but also a distorting one. Racism is structural, and also insidious and pervasive, often hiding behind the smiles of Southern politeness. A progressive white sheriff in the 1980s South who is blindsided to learn that his co-worker of two decades is a bigot rings false in a novel that seems to redeem Southern liberalism, rather than fully exploring the deeper politics of place.